Ron Rosenbaum

Two Cheers for the Iranian Exile Anti-Holocaust Deniers Conference Letter

First let me applaud the courage and initiative of the hundred or so iranian expatriate intellectuals, artist and dissidents who signed the letter now on the website of The New York Review of Books which speaks up against pernicious idiot Ahmadinejad’s Holocaust denial Parliament of Fools.

In no uncertain terms it “Strongly condemns the Holocaust Conference sponsored by the government of the Islamic Republic of Iran and its attempt to falsify history”.

This was the final sentence of a dozen points including one extremely significant charge: that the Islamic Government of Iran, now trying to deny the reality of Hitler’s mass murder had committed mass murder itself: had murdered thousands of political dissidents without trial in the eighties.

It’s important that they say it and that the world listens and does not believe that the current government of apocalyptic genocidally minded fanatics represents all Iranian people.

On the other hand–the troubling proviso in the manifesto–is the first one. Before addressing the Holocaust denier issue, the signers felt compelled as their very first point to assert that they are making this statement “nonwithstanding their diverse views other Israeli-Palestinian conflict.”

Why should this statement be necessary, why should it be, in fact, the first and foremost statement in their letter of protest?

I find it sad to have to day, but in doing so they are, in effect accepting the pseudo-sophisticated political rationale of the Iranian Holocaust deniers’ conference: that Holocaust denial has some relevance to the Israeli/Palestinian issue.

That’s the agenda behind Ahmadinjehad’s promotion of Holocaust denial: that the Jews faked the Holocaust to gain sympathy that allowed them to help them steal the land of the Palestinians.

He’s succeeded to the extent that those who assert the most obvious historical truth–the Holocaust happened–feel fear that in doing so such a statement could be misconstrued to imply they support the right to the state of Israel’s existence. It would be like stating the world is round not flat, but our assertion of this truth does not necessarily mean we believe the Jewish state has a right to exist.

It buys into the notion the only justification for the state of Israel’s existence is some kind of reparation for the Holocaust, ignores the fact that Jews have lived there for thousands of years, that the right of eventual statehood had been granted by the Balfour declaration two decades before the Holocaust began, that the existence of the Holocaust has not mattered a jot in inhibiting the Jewish state’s neighbors from trying to exterminate it ever since it was created by the UN after the Holocaust.

In this respect the otherwise admirable statement is a victory for Ahmadinejad. From now on if one want to assert the fact that the Holocaust actually occurred one must register in equal or stronger terms one’s distance from any implication that signing such a statement implies the Jewish state deserves to survive. Sad.